What is Custodial Care?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2019
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Custodial care is a type of non-medical care that involves assistance with daily living tasks. For example, a person who needs custodial care may need help with such things as getting in and out of bed, using the bathroom, and grooming. He may also need help with the preparation of meals, and in some cases, feeding. This type of care is personal in nature, but does not require the services of a trained nurse or other health care professional.

While an individual who provides custodial care doesn’t usually need extensive training or knowledge of health care, he does need patience, compassion, organizational skills, and physical strength and stamina. This person has the job of assisting individuals with their personal needs. This may include everything from basic grooming to turning the patient in bed so he doesn't develop bed sores. An individual who provides this type of care works to make sure his charge’s physical needs are met and that he is as comfortable as possible.


Often, a person who needs custodial care commonly has trouble moving about on his own. In such a case, he may need help with walking to the bathroom and transferring from his bed to a chair and back again. In some cases, he may need help with performing exercises intended to help improve or maintain his strength and function, increase his range of motion, or improve his balance. As long as these exercises do not require the help of a rehabilitation specialist, they may fall under the heading of custodial care.

Custodial care may also include the preparation of meals and assistance with eating. Sometimes it also includes feeding through special tubes instead of through the mouth. It may also include toileting care. For example, this type of care may involve helping the patient to the bathroom or with the use of bed pans. In some cases, it may involve helping the patient with incontinence products, such as diapers and sheets designed to protect mattresses from bodily fluids.

Bathing and grooming are typically included in this type of care. A patient may need assistance with showering, bathing, or even taking sponge baths. He may also need help with brushing his teeth, combing his hair, and similar tasks. In some cases, patients may also require assistance with changing bandages and dressings or using colostomy supplies.

Sometimes those who need custodial care also need help with taking their medications. In such a case, an individual who provides this type of care may remind the patient about taking his medications and provide the medication when each dose is due. This may only fall under the heading of custodial care, however, if the patient doesn’t need a health care professional to administer his medication.


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